By Shaun Boyd

DENVER (CBS4) – Gov. Jared Polis is proposing a huge tax increase on nicotine products including e-cigarettes, as new research shows many children don’t know what they’re vaping or how addictive it can be. Polis argues Colorado can’t afford not to make smoking and vaping less affordable.

Gov. Jared Polis (credit: CBS)

“Colorado unfortunately is one of, if not the top, state in the nation for teen vaping,” he said Wednesday.

A study by Stony Brook Children’s Hospital found 40 percent of kids who vaped in the past week didn’t realize the products contain nicotine.

The governor’s proposal would raise the tax on cigarettes about 300 percent — from .84 cents a pack to $2.56 — and would impose a 62 percent tax on e-cigarettes and other tobacco products. That’s nearly double the tax on pot.

Ted Trimpa — a prominent democrat — represents more than 100 vape shops. He says businesses and adult smokers who want to quit would be hurt most by the tax.

“Why not we take the time to figure out what are the best strategies rather than using a sledgehammer to try to solve a problem that can be done much more precisely?”

But the governor disagrees saying research shows every 10 percent increase in the price of cigarettes leads to roughly a seven percent decrease in teen usage.

(credit: CBS)

“The biggest single impact on reduction of use from increasing the price would be from young people who are more price sensitive.”

If approved, the tax measure would bring in an additional $300 million a year. Half the money would go to pre-school and after school care. The other half would go to health care, including smoking and vaping cessation and more mental health care for kids.

While voters rejected a tax increase on tobacco in 2016, the governor says times have changed.

(credit: CBS)

“Last time this was brought forward there was not yet a teen vaping crisis.”

Polis says Colorado has among the lowest cigarette taxes in the country and even if the increase passes, our tax would be about average.

The tax proposal is one of three spending or revenue raising measures democratic lawmakers want to send to voters this November.

Shaun Boyd

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